New Android games you must play in April 2016

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April 2016

Chameleon Run

A fast and responsive autorunner, Chameleon Run utilizes the color-switching mechanic so popular in mobile gaming at the minute to great effect.

The game sees you jumping across varicolored platforms, and your task is to time your jump and switch color to ensure that you’re character matches the color of the platform on which you land.

Generally, the levels are very short, but they’re carefully designed, offering that perfect balance that achieves ‘just one more go’ addictiveness.

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Miitomo

Nintendo’s first venture into mobile gaming, Miitomo marks a quietly innovative entrance. It’s essentially a social media platform through which you interact with your friends using a carefully created avatar and compete against one another in games.

Currently, there’s only one such game available in Miitomo, but expect this to change soon, and in the meantime, it provides a good way to gather valuable items that will no doubt prove useful later on.

It’s a unique offering for a number of reasons, not least for its freemium model, which works on smaller, less frequent purchases and a less aggressive campaign behind them, avoiding the notification and ad bombardment that plagues other freemium titles.

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MechCom 2

We’re always on the lookout here for good new RTS games on Android, as the market is very scarce. And MechCom 2 offers a very sturdy Warzone-2100-inspired outing that will please anyone with a hankering for strategy.

It sees you play the role of a military commander sent by a powerful corporation to mine for minerals on an alien planet. Of course, it’s no picnic: a war is raging for control of the mineral-rich world.

It’s well tailored to the mobile platform, but sometimes this comes at the expense of exhaustive customization options. Otherwise, especially for just $1, the game demonstrates high production values, and it’s clearly been developed by a team with a love of RTS games. All in all, a great way to get your strategy fix on the go.

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March 2016

Clash Royale

The latest offering from Supercell has been given an enormous advertising push and is guaranteed to ride the top-10 charts in the Play Store for months to come.

Clash Royale is a blend of multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), real-time strategy (RTS) and collectible card game (CCG). The way it mixes these elements is deftly effective, in the way only such a huge and well-established developer could achieve.

Sure, it’s a great deal more simplified than other RTSs or CCGs, and this is done to make it more approachable, but it never feels trivial. It also retains the clan element, allowing players to band together to share cards, and thus gain more experience.

Beware, as ever, the freemium. The game uses time-locked upgrades to encourage you to make purchases, but if you’re patient, you can just wait it out.

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Fading Light

There are plenty of tap-to-float games out there, but it’s always cool to see something add a little twist, and Fading Light does just that. You navigate a glowing cube through increasingly difficult networks of tunnels as your light source slowly wanes. Along the way, you have to hit top ups to restock your light fuel and then continue in search of the maze’s end.

The mechanism provides the gameplay with an endless source of tension, and few games like this have pulled me in so quickly and effectively.

One recommendation, though: mute the music.

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February 2016

Downwell

I’ve written about Downwell before and it is one of my favorite games of 2015. It was first released on PC and iOS but you can now enjoy it on Android, and it’s as delicious as ever.

Downwell is played in portrait orientation: you fall through the narrow screen blasting enemies and gaining items as you go. Reach the end of the stage and you will be given a choice of perks to help you through the next level. Stages get increasingly more difficult and you only have a small number of lives, and you lose one every time you sustain damage.

It has all of the cool things you could ask for from a game: Gunboots? Check. ZX Spectrum-style graphics? Check. Murderous jellyfish? Check. But it’s not just the precise controls and excellent enemy design that makes Downwell awesome, it’s the constant decision making it forces you to undertake.

Your gunboot ammo is limited, but can be replenished if you land on an object or enemy. The problem is that some enemies cause damage when you land on them. This forces you to play strategy, risk and reward off against each other almost every second.

Downwell is wonderfully difficult and incredibly rewarding, and it’s one of those rare games that has all of the right parts, and they are all crafted so consistently. Really, don’t miss this.

Color Switch

Color Switch might be the most popular game on Android right now and if you play it you’ll immediately see why. You tap the screen to bounce a ball upwards through a series of obstructions. Each of these obstructions is made up of four colors, and your bouncing ball will only pass through it if it is the same color. The tricky part is that the obstruction is also moving. Each time the ball passes, it changes color and faces a new moving obstacle.

It sounds more difficult in theory than it is in practice: it plays like a minutely more nuanced Flappy Bird. The key difference is that, unlike Flappy Bird, you progress at your own pace: it’s possible to keep the ball aloft without actually moving through the next goal.

You are forced to be patient and wait for the right moment, before pushing through the next goal. Rushing ahead regularly results in an early demise – and it’s a painful experience. Color Switch is another one of those frustrating, just-one-more-turn, “tap tap tappy” titles which are great for comparing high scores with friends.

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Alto’s Adventure

Alto’s Adventure is a side-scrolling snowboard game with one of the best soundtracks of any Android title and incredible art: it seems like the Material Design-esque style was made for Android. Travel down mountains collecting coins and making jumps to boost your speed, but be careful not to crash into anything or fail to complete a jump.

It’s an enchanting, and often meditative title, and its use of light and dark really helps amplify the atmosphere. Best of all, Android fans won’t have to pay the US$2.99 price that iOS users do: it’s launching completely free.

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January 2016

Rayman Adventures

The Rayman series made its debut on the original PlayStation but can now be found on Android. Rayman Adventures is a side-scrolling, auto-runner platform game that builds on the proven formula of previous mobile titles, Rayman Fiesta Run and Rayman Jungle Run.

There are several different types of level in Rayman Adventures. One might be concerned with collecting items, another with defeating enemies, but they all require precise timing in order to avoid enemies, jump over obstacles and reach the end of the stage.

This latest game gives you a little more control than the earlier ones, as you now have the ability to change your running direction at will. This brings Rayman Adventures a little closer to its console counterparts in terms of player control. Rayman Adventures also makes the transition into free-to-play territory, with largely unobtrusive in-app purchases (though it also displays ads).

Rayman Adventures is one of the finest-looking platform games on Android, with high-resolution, and expertly designed, characters and backgrounds. The charming, cartoon-like animations marry perfectly to the precise gameplay, and navigating levels simply feels good.

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Please, Don’t Touch Anything

Please, Don’t touch anything is a wonderful little puzzle game that arrived on Android a little before the end of the year and has steadily built up some traction in the gaming community. If you haven’t played it yet, now is the time.

The premise is that you’re left in charge of a desk and a big red button while your co-worker takes a bathroom break, having instructed you not to touch anything. So what’s your first instinct? To touch something, of course.

Please, Don’t Touch Anything’s gameplay involves solving puzzles and trying out different combinations of button presses to trigger various outcomes, and all the action takes place at the in-game desk you sit at.

There are no in-app purchases – you’ll have to pay five bucks to own it – but Please, Don’t Touch Anything is one of the most inventive and enjoyable Android titles released in 2015.

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Cut the Rope: Magic

Classic mobile title Cut the Rope has got itself another sequel in the form of Cut the Rope: Magic. It centers around the traditional Cut the Rope recipe: vibrant, non-threatening graphics, mixed with some tear-your-hair-out puzzles.

Your task is to deliver a piece of candy into the mouth of hungry critter Om Nom, by cutting the ropes that hold the candy in the correct order, with the correct timing.

What’s great about the Cut the Rope series is that it makes you feel smart. The challenges get increasingly difficult, and naturally it’s completing the trickiest puzzles that provides the biggest sense of accomplishment.

Cut the Rope: Magic doesn’t do anything radical with the series, but its presentation is gorgeous, speaks volumes about the attention to detail paid by developer ZeptoLab. If you’ve been eager for more of this sweet gaming treat, check it out.

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December 2015

Call of Champions

Call of Champions is a free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) for Android, in which you play as a hero in one of two teams of three. Each of these heroes has their own unique abilities, which you must employ in order to take down the enemy base in short battles that reward strategy and co-operative play as much as quick-thinking.

Call of Champions borrows quite heavily from League of Legends, both in art and mechanics, but the good news is that it does so effectively. Though it’s not quite as nuanced, it is a first class MOBA and arguably the best on Android. MOBA games rely on balance to be competitive and it’s no small feat that developer Spacetime Games has managed to achieve this in a free-to-play mobile title. Just note that you will need a fairly powerful device to play it.

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Dead Effect 2

This is another not-so-original Android title (even its name is a cross between two other games, Mass Effect and Dead Space). It’s a free-to-play first-person shooter that takes place onboard a zombie infested space station and sees you killing mutants and solving some light puzzles in order to survive.

Dead Effect 2’s major strength is that it looks incredible – the graphics are really pushing boundaries. The movement controls are a little floaty by default but, thankfully, they’re completely customizable. What it lacks in gameplay depth, Dead Effect 2 makes up for in polish. If you want something that feels like a console FPS on Android, this is it.

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Endless Sniper

Unlike the more commercial titles above, Endless Sniper is a relatively small scale Android game, but it’s very well delivered. Just like in an endless runner, Endless Sniper’s levels keep going until you fail, but in this case, it’s your sniping skills that are put to the test rather than running and jumping.

Each level of Endless Sniper presents you with a number of on-screen enemies who are out to kill you. In order to progress, you must kill them first. It’s a simple idea, but it’s a blast to play. The pixel graphics are charming, the levels are procedurally generated so that no two are the same, and variety of on-screen enemies makes each the gameplay completely frantic – it’s one of the most nerve-racking Android games I’ve played all year.

Endless Sniper is not perfect, but it is excellent. Get it from the Play Store via the link below.

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November

Prune

Described in the Play Store as “a love letter to trees”, Prune is an award-winning puzzle game. It hit iOS earlier in the year, and now it’s in the Play Store. You owe it to yourself to play it.

The gameplay of Prune concerns tree cultivation. Your tree begins to grow, and to ensure it reaches its full height, you must carefully trim its branches. When branches hit the sun they flower, and once a certain number have flowered, you beat the level. As you progress, the number of objects that stand in your way of success also grows.

Prune is a rare kind of Android game. It’s minimalist and meditative but somehow perfect for the mobile platform. This is definitely our best pick for this month. Conceptually, visually and aurally, it’s simply a wonderful piece of work.

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Need for Speed: No Limits

Need for Speed: No Limits is almost the complete opposite of Prune. It’s big and loud, and is the latest game in a long-running race series. EA has pushed out a number of these titles on Android, and this latest installment sees you competing in races in order to improve your reputation and your car.

The game takes place in an urban setting and the races are often short and sweet – some take less than a minute to complete – making it ideal for short sessions. EA nails the look and feel of the cars and environments, and the game is undeniably polished, but do expect in-app purchases.

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QuickBoy

A free-to-play runner that features zombies is possibly the least original idea you could think of, but that shouldn’t stop you enjoying QuickBoy for being the well-crafted game that it is.

You’ll be in familiar territory here; QuickBoy is a side-scrolling auto-runner and requires precise timing to avoid enemies and jump over obstacles. The presentation is fantastic though. Everything exists within a tan-colored post-apocalyptic world and even the menus are carefully considered. There’s also a cool combo system that rewards you for well-timed jumps. If you’re done with Fallout Shelter, try QuickBoy’s apocalypse until Fallout 4 arrives.

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October

Eternity Warriors 4

Eternity Warriors 4 is the latest fantasy RPG in the popular Eternity Warriors series from developer Glu. It’s a fairly typical tale: you play as a warrior, a mage or an assassin travelling across the world completing quests and upgrading gear. What it lacks in originality, though, it more than makes up for in style.

The graphics and animations are seriously good. The lighting effects and background textures make for a dramatic atmosphere, and the fast-paced action controls beautifully. You’ll carve up hordes of baddies in something that plays like God of War meets Diablo.

It’s clearly been developed by a team of experts at the top of their game: the production values are as high as can be found on any title in the Play Store. From player-vs-player battles to guilds that you can join in order to quest with others, and weekly events offering unique rewards and gear, Eternity Warriors 4 has a lot to offer for a free Android title.

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Lara Croft GO

Following the success of last year’s Hitman GO, Square Enix has given the Tomb Raider franchise the same treatment. Lara Croft GO is set within the Tomb Raider world, but it doesn’t exactly play like a Tomb Raider title: it’s turn-based and focuses on puzzles rather than action.

But somehow, it works. There are 75 inventive puzzles across five chapters, the cel-shaded aesthetics are wonderful and the game is a decent length. It does feature in-app purchases, but they’re cheap and not essential. It’s well worth a look for five bucks and if you don’t like it, you can get a refund.

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Star Wars: Uprising

Star Wars is a sci-fi fantasy… just kidding, you know what Star Wars is. Star Wars: Uprising is a recently released mobile game that bridges the gap between Episode VI and the upcoming Episode VII.

Not only do you get to play out the story ahead of the Episode VII movie release in December, you get to do it in an awesome action game with co-op gameplay. Complete quests, level up your character, learn new Jedi abilities and battle against the Galactic Empire in this free-to-play RPG. If you want to start getting excited for the new movie, this is one of the best ways to do it.

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September

Dungeon Boss

Dungeon Boss is a fierce little dungeon crawler in which battles take place in a turn-based fashion. You must fight your way through a number of lesser foes to meet the dungeon boss at the end of each stage. Defeat the end-of-level beast and you’ll receive a trove of gold and gems with which to buy various items and upgrades.

It looks and plays in a similar way to Double Fine’s Costume Quest. The blocky art style, 3D graphics and game environments may seem cutesy, but the later levels of the game get extremely difficult. You’ll to need a pretty decent phone for it to run smoothly, though.

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UNKILLED

MADFINGER Games, the folks behind Dead Trigger 1 and Dead Trigger 2, have now released Dea… er, UNKILLED, a new and completely different kind of first-person zombie shooter. In it, you blast your way through New York City streets during the onset of a zombie apocalypse, using the left side of the screen for movement and the right side for aim.

Because your weapon fires automatically once something is in your sights, the controls of the game feel incredibly smooth. There’s a cheesy storyline to follow, but the real fun is in blasting through undead hordes with extras like rockets and bullet-time buffs. If you want to see what the latest tech is capable of, you need to check this game out.

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Pokemon Shuffle

Pokémon Shuffle is a free-to-play puzzle game developed by The Pokémon Company (the same guys responsible for the Pokemon RPGs on the Game Boy) and is the first Pokémon game to be released on Android outside of Japan.

It’s a match-three game in the same vein as Candy Crush Saga, but each stage plays out as a battle with a Pokémon. If you complete the level, you’ll have a chance to catch the Pokémon you faced. Your chances of catching them will be better or worse depending on how you performed in the battle.

If you finished the stage with three moves left, for example, these will be converted to points and added to your score, increasing your chances of snagging the Pokémon. It’s a neat idea because it encourages you to play smarter and be more strategic.

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